The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently weighed in on an issue any construction professional can attest to, acknowledging that the labor shortage is one of the biggest obstacles facing contractors today.
This imbalance presents a challenge, but also an opportunity. If contractors can leverage the right technologies to their teams’ advantage, they can empower their teams to put every hour of their time to their highest and best possible purpose, and do their best work.
Procore recently hosted a webinar entitled, Getting the Most from your Team with Construction Technology to discuss the various ways technology can help companies do more with less, provide accurate real-time information accessible in the field, and help construction companies maximize their current resources.
Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:
Clearing common obstacles through construction technology
Contractors traditionally have had three choices when they have more work than their team can handle. The first, of course, would be to hire more people, but as the Chamber of Commerce points out, there are labor shortages at all levels of the construction industry, from trades on up to management.
The second choice is to simply work harder, but pushing an already stretched-thin workforce too hard is a risky proposition at a time when finding people to replace them is no small feat.
“We can’t risk driving those people away by overworking them, potentially disenfranchising them, and making them feel bogged down in difficult processes instead of doing what they really love, which is to build,” said Scott Nyborg, Procore’s Product Marketing Manager.
The third and best option is to enable teams to do as much of their best work as they can in the most efficient manner possible. This means clearing obstacles through technology in a way that allows them to get more done without overburdening them.
“If you provide the tools people need to become more efficient in their processes, then maybe that person can now manage 10 projects in the same amount of time,” said Andrea Ceballos, Director of Project Support Specialists at DeAngelis Diamond.
“If you’re going to invest in technology, make sure it’s going to help, and that you aren’t actually just making more work for somebody,” added Ceballos.
The field-to-office communication conundrum
A frequently occurring bottleneck in construction that holds teams back from peak efficiency is how information is communicated between the office and field. This can range from nonexistent to woefully disorganized. This is an area in which using technology has helped boost efficiency.
For Colette Albretsen, Operations Coordinator at Big-D Construction, juggling busy job sites across four states means a lot more risk of time-consuming errors in the days of waiting for plans to print and ferrying paper drawings between far-flung projects. As an 18-year industry veteran, this is something Albretsen remembers all too well.
Digital drawings alone have been huge. It helps keep our subcontractors accountable, and they’re able to access the most current set of drawings either from the trailer or their mobile devices. That communication, and the timeliness of the communication, definitely keeps our teams able to be building the right thing and not just waiting for information.
Colette Albretsen, Operations Coordinator at Big-D Construction
“Digital drawings alone have been huge. It helps keep our subcontractors accountable, and they’re able to access the most current set of drawings either from the trailer or their mobile devices. That communication, and the timeliness of the communication, definitely keeps our teams able to be building the right thing and not just waiting for information,” explained Albretsen.
The accountability piece has been particularly appealing to many superintendents. For others who aren’t necessarily looking to add a new layer of technology to their process, it can be a key motivator to keeping an open mind.
Albretsen puts it to them like this: “Do you want to take on that accountability where you have to make sure every piece of paper in your office, and every set of drawings everyone has out in the field, have all been updated with the new directive? I let them know that from an accountability standpoint, it takes a lot off their shoulders.”
It’s important to note that companies run the risk of poor communication if it’s not properly targeted or too frequent. Automation has been one strategy contractors have used to ensure only necessary information is being delivered. For instance, an auto-generated report that details any big updates over the last week, which could include everything from submittals to RFI approvals. By not overwhelming people’s inboxes with a constant stream of extraneous information, they’re more likely to take notice and actually read what you need them to read.
Procore provides a single source of truth
So many of the inefficiencies in construction are the result of incorrect information, or information being delivered too late. Solutions like Procore provide contractors with a single source of truth, through which all information is channeled and immediately accessible to every project stakeholder at all times.
With everything logged, tracked, and recorded within a unified solution, nothing is left to chance. Rather than sorting through some combination of handwritten to-do lists, Excel spreadsheets, and a collection of ragged notebooks on your desk, you have a digital platform where everybody can remain aware of the latest developments in real time.
Construction projects have reached a scale and level of complexity where even the best superintendent or project manager in the world can’t possibly keep track of every detail in their heads. Thanks to advances in collaborative job site technologies, they no longer have to.
As demand for construction services continues to surge, contractors are harnessing technology to slice through inefficiencies and empowering their workers to do significantly more work, and work of a much higher quality, without increasing their workload.
“Technology gives us the ability to do more with a single person than before, because some of that stuff you used to do that was super time consuming can be offloaded onto a technology platform,” said Albretsen. “Then it kind of runs in the background for you; as long as you’re putting good stuff in you’re going to get good stuff out.”